August 18, 2012
Alcohol is the most abused drug in our society. It is also the most socially accepted drug on the market. While alcohol consumption can lead to a number of serious health problems, it does not have the same stigma attached to it as drug addiction. Although the legal age for drinking is 21, many have their first experiences with alcohol as early as high school. Some people drink to alter their psychological state of mind or change their moods while others simply drink for social enjoyment. But when is social drinking a social disaster? What are the causes of alcoholism? Is one population more at risk than another?
What segment of the population is most at risk to contract this illness or disease? (E.g. gender, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, residential locale).
A man is two and a half times more likely to have a problem with alcohol than a woman. A study published in Biological Psychiatry revealed that the release of dopamine was more excessive in men than in women after drinking an alcoholic beverage and could be a cause for habit formation. “Despite similar consumptions of alcohol, the men had greater dopamine release than women. This increase was found in the ventral striatum, an area in the brain strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation.” (Elsevier, October 18, 2010) With the decline of alcohol-induced dopamine release with repeated drinking, men will develop a tolerance that can quickly cause a social drinker to transform into habitual drinker. The alcoholic male is also most likely to deny that he has a drinking problem.
As for women, there is not a specific factor that can determine whether a female will have problems with alcoholism. In recent decades, alcohol and its consumption have dramatically increased among women. The cultural taboos placed on women and drinking have greatly weakened, due significantly to women’s...